A small girl paints orange rain not knowing it’s fire.

Her father tells her that goldfish are falling from the sky.

Shortfalls of logic become pillows when the voices of the dead echo against the slate of darkness.

The threshold from sleep can be arduous before hours of tangle.

When the brain slips under mud, it’s difficult to form sentences, become someone.

In an unknown city, identity is stolen by cracked sidewalks.

The wallet traded for a computerized watch, but the password purposely forgotten.

My new name is Joy, Storm, Willow, Saturday; my eyes are fading against the incalculable sum.   

Gunshots in the distance, hardly noticeable at all, but perimeters are porous.

Strangers will commiserate as if they’ll be friends but will never see each other again.

The Book of Sorrows placed on the highest shelf that requires a missing ladder.

After a singular parade for clarity, some of the pages were ripped and burned for everyone.

The Dictionary of Longing secured under the bed where the cat hides when it rains.

When the limelight tree has been pruned, an abandoned bird’s nest presents its circular intricacy.

The opera singer dies singing, and the mime will finally speak of meadows.

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D I R G E, III [3 dancers: Canto, Fresno, Aphrodite]

Everyone slows down and locks the rearview mirror when the ambulance arrives.

Look how the lightning subtracts the selves gone amok, grown awry!

It’s fortuitous, calmly, to entertain such shallowed breaths of equability; poise, if you will—

before the magnifications of the most-recent duplicities spill with the unconsolable cellos right off the page.

Our hummingbirds have grown their emerald bellies while we were away from all the rigmarole.

Three of them now, flying backwards, skirt the horizon’s thinning margins with soft, teal dusk.

The last scattering of verbs coagulated all the prepositions.

You know—how wax burns before it mitigates memories of the dead maestro’s thick hands;

their bones a map of flight without feather.

Are you ready? We’re pitching left to right now.

[Fresno is afraid.]

Go ahead, call your person quickly from the green room, but the WiFi is down due to the storms.

Pythagorus, Plato, and Aphrodite are playing with Playdoh in this absurd drama’s sandbox.


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D I R G E [:a ballet for 13 dancers], I

I [1 dancer, hazel]

I slept in the Book of the Dead and woke with parchment scrolls blooming tired magnolias from my unhinged mouth.

Lugubrious cellos attempted to climb me back to the mud-encrusted, brick floor.

When my thinking can trace some semblance of surface, I might explain.

Some will pigeonhole verbose.

If I erase, the amorphous Dreams of the Dead multiply.

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D I R G E [: a ballet for 13 dancers], II

II [13 dancers]

It was odd—the leave-taking / micro-swimming August rain, shaking fallen coats, making room for room.

The smallest deaths—objects touched by ghosts, moved, hidden under the floor—the widower’s wedding ring, lucky golden ducks, frozen yet mesmerized.

The finest choreographers exposed ugly turmoil beneath the status quo, underneath the rubble in the poorest country.

Shhh—don’t say anything.

Grow nightfall—tumbling fractals can subtract anxiety, the hurry behind the shed, coaxing fallen cucumbers.

The catbirds know our every move.

Canto, Moonbeam, Stearns, Aphrodite, Bunny, Emily, Fresno, Catullus, Hazel, Hayden, Haiti, Zygote, Seth.

Please don’t talk about such-and-such now.

It’s getting too late for matter, its fraying narrative.

An event, preferable.

The dancers should get ready in the green room for this dirge.

The audience, first restless—now riveted.

The dog’s amber, marble eyes, those of a goat or wolf—have locked the stranger’s, gray, by default.

Ensconced, the ambulances tread for 911.

Call a priest. Awake the sleep-laden soothsayer.

Throw rice at the submerged iPhone at the bottom of the stolen car ditched in the dirty river.

Roll down the windows for shallow air.


We’re one absurd equation away, strings in cold soup, a possible vacation.

Disease, you know, can gnaw at layers of lungs, a final cymbal crash.

Tired fisherwomen count days of impossible catch, wipe salt from their rusted lips.

It’s imperative to jettison this Book based on good behavior.

You’ve been very patient—you with your pockets inside out.

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Monday shuffled the rain’s pages, soggy and spent.

Tuesday threw a lifeline to resurrect dreaming.

After this many days of torrential rain and thunderstorm—

the sun’s image fits in a miniature dollhouse’s tiny white frame.

The velvet masquerade would still occur on Saturday; everyone wearing purple.

I sent away for the starter happiness kit, but my credit card was declined because my brain loses its mooring.

You should dead-bolt your front door—the circus is in town.

I apologize that the long-winded letter I sent burst into flames that I meant to be goldfish-orange lilies—

and also, that my “I’m sorry” email infected your hard drive.

Shit happens, but no one was supposed to bleed on shrill speed.

If it were all a mobïus strip—

people like you couldn’t jump off at craggy cliffs with lost seabirds.

What did I take you for on our high-speed chase in summer with all the windows down?

I could do all our math during any unforeseeable traffic delays while rubbernecking.

I assure you I’m qualified to decorate doubt;

that disillusionment hinges with the clock—

spiritual fatigue when one can‘t find more pills.

Love can’t heal everything—but you won’t see that in your social feed.  

Soldiers lie down to drink desert stars because the poison is way too close.

Not everything can be reassembled with industrial glue.

When you make a mistake, fold it in like a watercolor painting—

just don’t chisel the sculpture down to alabaster dust.

There’s a number to call for that, a hotline for a metaphysical fix.

Later, you can return your beliefs C.O.D.

I’ve grown new enchantment from seed.

If/when, pretend—that what we’re waiting for might be worth the gauze bandages.

What do you expect for a dollar?

The paper is soft like a thin cloth, harboring lilacs.

I lost the lines you were waiting for; spent that money on champagne.

It’s the rain’s fault—its breath on the sunflowers

causing the most-pronounced blurriness—

the fog swallowing airplanes.

The snake in the garage eats its own tail in private when no one is home.

If we buy the pontoon boat, we’ll be pleasure-laden—

now that you’re reading this—

now that your focus is realigned with hummingbirds.

Frenetically, their thin wings pump in overdrive to keep emerald bellies afloat.

Somewhere a family mourns their lost vacation by the sea,

the barnacled mussel shells their youngest gathers when the tide leaves for sleep.

Without his compact leather briefcase, a man in a stolen country paces a faded, Persian rug.

Someone in a lost city shrugs that none of this matters.

There’s no grand gesture to end any of it.

Now what?

I wasn’t privy to the memo.

I’m preoccupied, growing new hands to conduct a symphony of tangerine.

There is nothing I know inside.

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Distance throws points pointing to the Subject [of Yellow Feathers].

Lost in the sun—a rogue magician feeds finches from a torn sleeve.

This is where the owl lives at night with baby bats after the crickets and tree frogs’ duet plummets.

In the woods, there are no hands to flutter moonbeams.

In summer sunlight, trees arching under cyan blue are liquid stained-glass.

During late-afternoon brutal heat, the weeping willows drink the pond’s moss surface.

Just out of school for summer, impatient children try to catch tadpoles in butterfly nets.

Camouflaged in the oak’s wishbone trunk, the egret waits for the fish that are thirsty for air to catch the exterior like words.

Scientists claim that without a human cerebral cortex, fish can’t cry, but poets knows that their tears fill the oceans.

Yellow snapdragons are wilting in the garden because we’ve forgotten.

Buddha’s terracotta bowed chin and left ear are eternally injured by winter because we can’t find the proper glue. 

The Knight’s Suitcase of Watches drowns his Doppelganger backwards.

Many times the dying want to let go.

If the debacle had been planned properly, we could still do lunch.

There should be a word for someone who blows up consecutive bridges with one damp match.

Fire can be satisfying like a fact.

When you’re looking in the wrong places, it’s time to stop looking.

Compulsive white lying can alleviate boredom [not to mention major hassles], preempt further questioning, and hone the art of fabrication.   

The recently-widowed old man counts his money in the freezer.

Someone who might be me watches him through binoculars.

This time, it’s best for all subjected parties to become fluent in silence.

No one else needs to review your emotional scorecard.

No one fathoms the song I bleed when I relinquish windows.

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I opened the metaphysical with a can opener.

[The puzzle, magical.]

I don’t want to spoil.

[Delay denied the last dandelions.]

I wrote 87 emails but couldn’t hit SEND.

[Events took place in brackets.]

I felt your face with feathers.

[You are stranger than before.]

Gravity shifts the jaw line.

[The afterlife smells like ghosts.]

Hands pry the mouth.

[We atrophy fatigued metaphors.]

Rumors perforate.

[Burdens design their own pain.]

There were kinetic misunderstandings.

[Twenty seven lighters are ready to go.]

War explains daylight.

[It is your right not to watch.]

Google, an odd life coach.

[Time passes.]

The sculpture breaks my dreams.

[Leading a camel to water doesn’t make you noble.]

I mean everything I don’t remember.

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I wanted to go there but I can’t remember—to be with someone lost in the field of wildflowers—that disappeared when I touched a memory that confused the horizon.

The address of the doctor who promised not to cure me but to hide the symptoms—humanize me—was on a paper I lost when I tried to shuffle the lost bits in order, remove the jokers from the deck—forecast the future with stones.

There was a discombobulation of format—the margins ate what I was trying to explain—those hours that blurred the green of early summer.  

I didn’t mean to ruin your parade of secrets by dislocating the afternoon, burying your toy soldiers in dust after you shrouded each in a beautiful sentence.

I couldn’t remember—the name of the song I wanted to hear on the radio while I drove chasing dusk beyond the tallest pines, rotting barns, and small houses.

Because my brain couldn’t connect the dots it used to—and the notes fell off the page before reaching my mouth, weakened from not speaking—I hinged twilight with a paper bag of confetti, jilted syllables.

My hands cracked even after the singing that couldn’t will away the poison I touched while cutting down the pink and magenta peonies I was to bring someone like you—that wilted in the car while I grocery shopped for silence.

I spotted you in the shadows of your poem—and the day before with your flashlight at night between stanzas—trying to illuminate past the bookends of Sunday to Saturday.

I couldn’t say you were afraid with certainty—with the clarity of one walking to an altar built of believed promises.

The movie I was making to excise unpleasant emotions, offer catharsis—eluded.

It was supposed to be in the far distance of old black and white movies and photographs—but kept jumping into color.

Shades of red—fallen rose petals that filled the screen with silk, the cardinal dead in my hand that bled red even after burial, my misplaced, surfacing exasperation–orange embers that burned past February.

Resilient stigmas imbued the purple of bruises, small violets that grew into dark irises, fading into blunted fuchsia.

I wanted to tell you—we could exchange shoes, hats, faces—in the film of forgetting—for a day, maybe a week—that the disappearance didn’t have to hurt so much—that we’ll float this time instead of drown.

There was a melody that punctuated the soundtrack—what we used to want against dominos falling with civilization’s house of cards—the first thought on the breath defined by dreaming.

Thoughts were tangled in my hair I was afraid to wash—that I would lose myself in a painful refrain; the humbling—an avalanche—beyond any first responders.

It’s been so long without a pen or keyboard—my fingers have gone idle with something like melancholy.

I was meaning to write an explication of the days of invisibility—how I stayed up to save myself from falling.

Nauseated from caffeine, I walked a mile just as the birds began singing to usher daylight—to the blind widow’s house to read her love sonnets—but she didn’t recognize my voice and wouldn’t open the door.

I was on my way somewhere else—somewhere I can’t remember—to join a crowd of bystanders, to blend in and not be the subject anymore—

because some meanings were self-fabricated, embroidered (in) syntax—differential, at best—and it looked like rain.

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Let’s not get into this now—this driverless car that could easily crash that neither of us can afford, this city taxi cab (that will drive too fast near the bicycle lane)—or step into this afternoon of apple-green light, prescient of a tornado, maybe hail

this daydream that keeps playing on repeat in the same colors but different shades (violet, orange, and teal) but lands nowhere—a residue-lassitude of something, some-such—statues of stone (from a lost century) that can’t touch, cold under silver-green olive trees that shade the sun.

It’s not a good idea, this late, to eat a pile of pancakes or pontificate abstractions, touch the abacus beads, unfold the map of forgetting with all its holes, removed pathways between synapses—and the dark proliferates everything; sleep’s arrival can be impatient only at first, and some sentences may be better composed in daylight, pitched to a stranger on a train or in a coffee shop (and you’ll be rewarded for your good behavior).

It might be best not to discuss recent erasures, deletions, omissions, betrayals, tiresome conversations (misrepresentations)—until disturbance doesn’t taint angles of events (spins, interpretations), the war that goes on in the back of your head and elsewhere, a narrative that takes on a trajectory all its own: Hoarder of Lost Things in a Tale of Burning Houses.

On some days, there’s magnificence (inexplicably) in the smallest of spaces at every step, and other days only broken things catch the surface—until there is a spilling of violins that settles night down into purple (evaporating) for night’s black velvet dress beaded with star—and it’s exhilarating to hold up the oval mirror, so the moon can see itself spilling light, a gift to the darkness all its own.

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We were on page 72—cringing as the main character stepped onto the plane, knowing what would happen because of the foreshadowing on page 47. Her fiance would be destroyed in the next chapter, which might require tissues or a walk into the crisp night air.

Living in utterly different worlds, we were trying to collide on a day that was convenient and mild but ended up in the backseat of a taxi with a stranger who also didn’t have an umbrella in the sudden downpour or were passionately kissing the person we had met quite recently, focusing on the person’s name as the driver watched in the rear-view mirror in different movies on the same day.

In the desert, we dreamed of snow; in the blizzard, we wanted the tropics for at least a week or two; the residents of the tropics wanted to follow us home. All that wanting left holes. We were personalized snowflakes cut from parchment taped to somebody’s wall in an office where windows didn’t open.

We were on a boat, on an island, in an alley, an over-crowded temporary shelter, an empty parking lot when the electricity went out—a night dream, nightmare, feeling pleased, frightened, restless, or hungry. There was nothing appealing to eat, only bowls of rice and dry pancakes until we crossed the border in someone else’s dream for a feast that couldn’t be touched.

Parallel lines temporarily—until some of us took a sudden plunge into melancholy while others were able to jump rope through adversity, pay the bills swiftly, ward off anxiety, forget the mass shootings for a while, attend the small dinner party and know what to say, timed perfectly, avoiding topics of politics and religion.

Awkward most of the time, we were throwing darts into black holes to steady ourselves, sending money to charitable organizations or standing in line at the food bank, trying to make conversation with the person standing next to us instead of looking down and feeling stigmatized.

We were watching the sky from a well or an underground city when the tourists found us and sent a rope that some of us had the upper body strength to climb. The rest waited for first responders to perform their magic, sew up wounds, check for internal bleeding, any signs of self-sabotage.

Some of us were living in a melody on an untuned piano, a riff on a guitar missing a string, an aria in Sanskrit or Japanese, beautiful peonies that would last a week, if that, a calming presence, paddling up the river at night, watching the old woman feeding and singing to nervous sparrows, filing our taxes, clipping our nails, sitting in a philosophy class, waiting for Socrates to drink the hemlock, solving equations in other rooms to make the algorithms kind.

We were at a ballet of robots waiting for the intermission to grab a cappuccino, send a text, post photos or short videos of the robots on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, a meme, a witty observation, yesterday’s sunset, cloud reflections in the glass of skyscrapers, a link to an article about justice being served with a side of fire.

In the middle of a joke waiting for the punchline, uncomfortable with the racial profiling, in the center of a rice paddy or empty field, tilling it for sunflowers to lie down in all that yellow and become something someone else might want, grow into, become.

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